The Meaning of Flowers
Updated: Aug 3
The brilliant array of colors from the flowers in the garden brought her joy and sadness. It wasn't the flowers themselves that made her melancholy, but who put them there. The weeds were taller than the rose bushes and what was once a manicured garden was now a wilderness, a beauty in its own right. She preferred it that way. The tall weeds sprouted delicate white daises and towered above the roses, tiger lilies, tulips and peonies. To an untrained eye, a non-gardener like herself, it was difficult to distinguish what her mother had planted versus what nature decided should be there. She didn't feel smarter than nature.
Had her mother been there, those weeds wouldn't have stood a chance. She was afraid to uproot anything in fear of pulling up flowers her mother planted but hadn't bloomed yet. Only a skilled gardener could know a real plant from a weed. If only she had paid more attention to her mother. Asked more questions. Her idea of gardening was getting an indoor aloe plant, thinking it wouldn't need much attention. When that died she declared herself hopeless. Had she given it too much water or not enough? She hated watering plants and weeding the garden. She preferred a book, a pen and a notebook. She should have inherited two green thumbs. Her father is an avid vegetable gardener and her mother loved flowers. She held her hands up and examined them. She had her mother's short, stubby wrinkly fingers but definitely not her green thumbs.
Her parent's gardens were prolific and beautiful. They were strategically placed around the yard, wherever one looked there was an intentional spot of joy. The island in the circular drive had a miniature willow tree that bloomed white like a bride in the spring and was surrounded by maids of honor in reds, yellows and pinks. In another corner of the yard was a rose bush, tall and not pruned. climbing up the evergreen trees. Beautiful red roses poked through the evergreen needles, strangely out of place. On the way to the mailbox was a large patch of pink peonies. Around the house were over-grown brushes, bleeding hearts, sage, peonies, white roses and carnations. All sadly unkempt and neglected.
"If only she were here," she moaned to the cherry tree, "It's not fair. My mother planted you. Why are you here and she's not?"
How could these trees and flowers her mother planted come back ever year and yet her mother was gone. There weren't many tears left, after six years the well of tears was spent, leaving a hole nothing could fill. Her mother knew the difference between perennials and annuals, Anna had to look them up. How did these plants grow on their own, every year, gracefully, without any assistance? Perennials come back every three to five years on their own and hardier perennials can last as long as twenty years. Nature is certain of her rituals and cycles. Things go dormant, almost dead, in the winter and revive in the spring and summer. Not so with humans.
Why would God allow trees, shrubs and flowers to die and live again and not humans? Why do some trees live for thousands of years and her mother barely reached fifty eight? Even some turtles live hundreds of years. We are lucky if we make to to seventy or eight.
She knew her mother would live again, God could not be so cruel. But sometimes her faith wasn't strong enough. Every time she looked into her child's eyes as he climbed grandma's tree triumphantly or gleefully hopped the rocks in grandma's circular garden, it hurt. She wasn't here to enjoy her grandson and all the things that brought her joy. Her mother wasn't an intellect or a book lover. She didn't eat out or travel. She simply surrounded herself with what brought her joy. Family. Friends. Food and flowers. These are the simpler pleasures in life, to be enjoyed and not missed even for one minute.
Her mother had clung to life as long as she could before the cancer wasted her away and the pain unbearable. Even still, she hadn't been ready to go but she hadn't been given a choice either.
These were her thoughts as she strolled through her mother's garden, reminiscing, regretting, smiling as she picked the beautiful flowers her mother left behind. She arranged them cheerfully in a vase and snapped photos of them. She posted them on Facebook and Instagram for all to see and remember.
She said, "thank you mommy for leaving behind such beautiful things for us to enjoy. Wish you were here."
In loving memory of Josephine. 2014